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27 March 2013 - Mali and DRC - Remarks to the press by Ambassador Araud, Permanent Representative of France

(in French and English)

Good afternoon,

This meeting had three goals. First, we herad the report by the Secretariat on the implementation of resolution 2085, according to this resolution. The second point was for the French to make a report about the military situation in Mali, as we have done regularly since January. And third point, we had the first discussion about the report by the Secretary-general on Mali with the prospect of a Peacekeeping Operation. This was preliminary exchanges of views. We will have our first official meeting on Tuesday afternoon with a public briefing.

Afterwards, there will be consultations, based on which France will introduce, after having consulted our partners, a resolution for the creation of a Peacekeeping Operation in Mali. It will happen after, of course, our next meeting.

Coming out of this meeting, there is, I think, a consensus on the idea of getting towards a Peacekeeping Operation, a stabilization operation in Mali. But they are still a lot of questions, of course, legitimate questions. We will have to discuss these questions, which you have seen in the report, on the situation in Bamako, and also on the security assessment. We will have to be factoring all these elements in the draft resolution, which will be introduced after the meeting on Tuesday.

Second point: as you know, France has put in blue a resolution on DRC which will be voted tomorrow afternoon at 3pm.

Q: About a parallel force. What would it be ? Would it be kind of a UN mandate, would it be UN-funded? And how does it contrast to the same force “Licorne” in Côte d’Ivoire?

We have not reached this point yet. There is the report by the Secretary-general, on which we had our first discussions – where nobody raised this issue. It is notheless a real issue. This is why we will have a meeting on Tuesday. On the basis of this meeting, I will send to my capital the proposals and reactions of our partners. The French authorities will have to take a decision on whether and how to provide or to contribute to what is called a parallel force. We have not reach this point yet, neither in the Council, nor in Paris.

Q: The parallel force will stay for a certain amount of time… How long are the French ready to stay?

No decision has been taken. The report is there, we have had the first discussions because creating a new force is important. It is also very innovative, because usually Peacekeeping Operations come after a peace agreement and there will be no “peace agreement”, by definition, there won’t be a peace agreement there. There are a lot of questions and a parallel force is one of them, which will be discussed.

Q: On Mali, you said recently that you were hoping that France will start its withdrawal about the end of March and now it’s looking like another month. They are concerns that it will turn into a prolonged state…

We have to take account the reality of the ground. We had to come to Mali very quickly, on the 9th of January. We did not know at that time the challenge we were going to face. We want to do the job and as I said, we will stay as long as necessary but we want to leave as quickly as possible. It means that in a few days we will start to downsize our military presence. How long we will stay and how we will stay will depend on the situation on the ground. It will also depend on the peacekeeping operation, on the way it will be formatted and created. In a sense, we will have to have a balanced approach. The French authorities have to adjust their expectations and their decisions to the situation on the ground. Again, we are downsizing our forces, and we are not willing to rush out but we want to leave as quickly as possible.

Q : Monsieur l’Ambassadeur, dans son rapport, le Secrétaire général laisse entendre que la menace sécuritaire aujourd’hui est encore trop importante pour un déploiement de Casques bleus. Est-ce que c’est un avis que la France partage ? Quand se fera l’évaluation sur : est ce que cette sécurité est suffisante, et quand on considère qu’elle est suffisante pour envoyer des Casques bleus sur place ?

Il est évident que le problème de la sécurité est un problème très important. On n’envoie pas une opération de maintien de la paix dans un environnement de guerre. La situation est globalement stabilisée. Il appartiendra au Secrétariat, et cela figurera dans la résolution, de fournir l’analyse de la sécurité et c’est sur la base de cette analyse de la sécurité que le Conseil de sécurité décidera du déploiement de la force de maintien de la paix. Notre objectif est d’avoir une résolution au mois d’avril. Ensuite le temps de déploiement de la force prend au minimum deux mois donc nous sommes dans un calendrier pour la création d’une force au début du mois de juillet, fin du mois de juin. Nous avons encore le temps pour voir l’évolution de la situation sur le terrain mais nous sommes conscients des contraintes.

Q : On DRC, the criticism of some of the TCCs, like Guatemala and Pakistan that this intervention began, is to be fully separate from the mission of the peacekeepers at risk, how have you addressed it ?

The text has been put under silence procedure this morning and neither Pakistan nor Guatemala have broken silence. After that we have put it in blue. Our conclusion is that they have accepted the text as it is. The challenge we are facing is to show that we have only one force with, in a sense, two elements. We have tried to respond to their concerns. They have not broken silence. We discussed it with them so that the resolution satisfies them and so that it will be voted tomorrow.

Thank you.

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